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If you plan to buy a home in Alberta, you’ll probably need to take out a mortgage to finance it. A mortgage will help you finance a purchase, which would otherwise be nearly impossible given the high prices of real estate these days. Here’s everything you need to know about mortgages in Alberta.
Pre-Approvals Are Very Helpful
Before you start house hunting in Alberta, it’s always a good idea to start out the process by getting pre-approved for a mortgage. They’re usually good for about 90 days, after which they are no longer valid. While this won’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll get final mortgage approval after you’ve made an offer on a home, it can be helpful in many ways.
Know How Much You Can Afford
For example, there’s no sense in looking at homes that are in the $800,000 range if you can only get approved for a $500,000 mortgage based on your current finances. Getting pre-approved will tell you how much you’ll likely get approved for, which can help you budget accordingly and focus only on properties in Alberta that are within your financial means.
Stand Out to Sellers
Sellers in Alberta want to be confident that the buyer they agree to sell to has the financial capability of getting approved for a mortgage. With a pre-approval letter in hand, buyers will seem more serious to sellers, which will give the sellers more reassurance. And if there is a bidding war, a pre-approval letter is absolutely necessary.
Move The Mortgage Approval Process Along
Once you find a home, put in an offer, and the deal enters escrow, the final mortgage approval process begins. But because you’ve already been pre-approved and have already submitted all documents, the process can be much smoother and more streamlined, helping to move the process along faster.
Wondering if you should spend your entire pre-approval amount when buying a home? Find out here.
Different Types of Mortgages Available in Alberta
There are a few different types of mortgages in Alberta that you may want to consider before deciding on one:
Conventional mortgages – These mortgages require a minimum 20% down payment.
Look here to know the difference between a conventional mortgage and a collateral mortgage.
High-ratio mortgages – These are conventional mortgages in Alberta that require a minimum of 5% down and come with mortgage default insurance or CMHC insurance. This policy is required by lenders in Alberta and Canada, in general, because of the higher risk associated with a higher loan-to-value ratio and protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage.
Trying to get a down payment for a house in Canada? Here’s how you can accomplish that goal.
Bridge loans – These types of loans are often sought after by those in Alberta who have bad credit and are unable to secure a conventional mortgage. They’re designed to provide consumers in Alberta and Canada, in general, with short-term solutions by using their homes to boost their credit when conventional lenders turn them down for a home loan. Bridge loans give borrowers a chance to access lower interest rates on loans in the near future.
For more information about short term mortgage financing and bridge loans, look at this.
Fixed-rate mortgages – With these types of mortgages, the interest rate remains fixed throughout the term. As such, the mortgage payment amount does not change each month, making it easier for borrowers to budget. Many first-time buyers in Alberta prefer fixed-rate mortgages because of their predictable mortgage payments. They’re also ideal if interest rates are expected to increase in the near future. By locking in at today’s rate, borrowers can be protected should the rates increase over the short term.
Check out this other page to learn more about fixed and variable rate mortgages.
Adjustable-rate mortgages – These mortgages involve interest rates that fluctuate. At specific intervals, the rate is adjusted according to the current posted rate as determined by the Bank of Canada. Because the rate fluctuates, the mortgage payment amounts also change periodically. An adjustable-rate mortgage is great if the rate is expected to decrease in the near future, allowing borrowers to take advantage of lower rates. They’re also a good option for those who don’t plan to stick around in their home for very long, allowing them to get out of the mortgage once the initial fixed-interest-rate period expires.
Want to know more about fixed and variable loans in general? Try reading this.
Home equity line of credit (HELOC) – Also referred to as second mortgages, HELOCs allow borrowers in Alberta to borrow against their home. Basically, a new loan is taken out on a home that already has a mortgage on it. HELOCs allow borrowers to borrow against the equity in their home to free up money to be used for other purposes.
Mortgage Amortization Period
When you take out a mortgage in Alberta, you’ll be given a certain amount of time to repay the entire loan amount. This is known as the amortization period. The most common length of time given in Canada is 25 years. However, the amortization period can be shorter or longer, depending on what the lender is willing to offer you.
Shorter amortization periods allow borrowers to repay the loan amount sooner rather than later. But because the loan is repaid in a shorter period of time, the mortgage payments are higher. That said, the overall loan amount is cheaper because less money is put toward the interest portion of the mortgage.
Longer amortization periods are highly favourable among many borrowers in Alberta because the monthly payment amounts are smaller. Borrowers have more time to pay off their mortgage, which can take some pressure off of them to repay their loan. However, longer amortization periods are more expensive in the long run because more money is contributed to the interest portion.
Take a look at this infographic for more information on the cost of buying a house in Canada.
Mortgage Insurance Rules in Alberta
In order to get a mortgage, borrowers must come up with a down payment to be put toward the purchase price of the home. If a borrower in Alberta put less than 20% down on a mortgage, lenders will charge mortgage default insurance, or CMHC insurance, which is designed to protect the lender if the borrower defaults on the loan at any point throughout the term. In order to avoid paying this extra amount, at least 20% must be put down.
Click here for more knowledge about high ratio mortgages and mortgage default insurance.
Tips For Saving for a Down Payment
As mentioned already, a down payment is a crucial part of mortgages in Alberta. But considering how expensive homes in Alberta can be, it can be a challenge for borrowers to save up a sizeable amount of money to be used as a down payment. That said, there are several things you can do to save up for a down payment:
- Prioritize your saving
- Pay off your high-interest debt first (such as credit cards)
- Keep your spending to a minimum
- Borrow funds from your RRSP account
- Look into First-Time Homebuyers Programs
- Have your savings automated
Thinking about borrowing money for your down payment instead? Read this first.
Different Options For Mortgage Payments in Alberta
The goal of having a mortgage is to eventually pay it off in full at some date in the future. But in order to do that, you’ll be expected to make regular installment payments to chip away at that loan amount. You have different options when it comes to making mortgage payments, including the following:
- Monthly payments – This is the most common type of payment schedule, and involves making one payment each month.
- Bi-weekly – Instead of making one payment per month, you’ll make two payments a month for a total of 26 payments.
- Accelerate bi-weekly – The payment schedule involves making one-half of the monthly mortgage payment every two weeks.
- Weekly – With this schedule, your mortgage payments would be made once a week.
Read more about these mortgage payment options by clicking here.
Comparing Mortgages From Different Lenders
In order to make sure you’re getting the best mortgage product with ideal terms and rates, you’d be well-advised to compare mortgage products from different lenders. This will allow you to find the best mortgage for your particular financial situation.
Look here if you’ve been trying to compare lenders in Canada.
In order to compare mortgage offers, there are a few key components to look at, including the following:
- Interest rate
- Points to pay down (which can lower the interest rate)
- Amortization period
- Pre-payment options
- Early repayment penalties
Like any other contract, reading the fine print can help you identify any pertinent information that could influence your decision on which mortgage product to choose, so be sure to carefully review the terms before you sign on the dotted line.
Why do different mortgage lenders offer different mortgage rates? Find out here.
Credit Score Required to Get a Mortgage in Alberta
In order to get approved for a mortgage in Alberta, a certain credit score is required. In Alberta, lenders typically want to see credit scores no lower than 680. Anything lower than this could be a deterrent for mortgage approval.
Read this if you want more details about the minimum credit score for mortgage approval in Canada.
A low credit score is a reflection of a person’s financial past. Usually, a string of missed or late payments has occurred, which have contributed to a lower credit score. Borrowers with a low credit score are risky for lenders, which is why they’ll either reject these mortgage applications or charge a much higher interest rate to make up for it.
The higher the credit score, the better the chances of mortgage approval and lower interest rates.
Alternative Mortgages For Borrowers in Alberta With Bad Credit
If your credit score isn’t as high as conventional lenders would like it to be, you have options to consider:
Get a co-signer – If you can’t get approved for a mortgage on your own, having a co-signer on the mortgage can help convince the lender to accept your application. A co-signer agrees to make the mortgage payments if you fail to do so yourself. It’s a big responsibility, but a co-signer with good credit can mean the difference between a rejected and approved mortgage application.
Want to know what types of loans you can get with a cosigner? Click here to find out.
Work with a bad credit lender – There are lenders out there who deal exclusively with bad credit borrowers. These lenders place more weight on other factors aside from credit scores, such as income and down payment amounts. That said, it’s important to be careful with who you deal with, as some lenders out there could be scammers.
Need a bad credit loan in Alberta? Try looking here.
Take time to improve your credit score – If you’re not in a rush to buy a home, consider taking some time out to improve your credit score. There are many things you can do right now to give your credit score a boost, including the following:
- Make your payments on time and in full every month
- Don’t spend any more than 30% of your credit card limit
- Don’t apply for too many loans or lines of credit
- Don’t close out any old credit lines
- Pay off debt accounts before closing them
Within a few months, you can have a higher credit score, which can make it easier for you to get approved for a mortgage with better terms and a lower rate.
To see some more alternative mortgage financing options, check this out.
Costs of Purchasing a House in Alberta
Your mortgage is a huge cost when it comes to buying a home in Alberta. But there are several other costs associated with this purchase that you should be aware of in order to budget appropriately:
- Down payment
- Home inspection
- Real estate agent commissions
- Legal fees
- Survey fees
- Title insurance
- CMHC insurance
- Home insurance
- Property taxes
- Maintenance fees
- New home warranty fee
- Condo fees (if applicable)
There are plenty of fees associated with buying and owning a home, so make sure you’ve budgeted for them long before applying for a mortgage in Alberta.
What do I need to get a pre-approved mortgage in Alberta?
What are the penalties for paying my mortgage early?
Where can I get a mortgage in Alberta?
Buying a home in Alberta is a big investment, and entering a contract for a mortgage is a long-term commitment. To make sure you a ready to take out a mortgage, take a long look at your finances. Speak with a financial advisor, real estate agent, and mortgage broker to see what your options are. And when you’re ready to take out a mortgage, be sure to speak with an associate at Loans Canada to help you find the ideal mortgage product for you.